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Putting the Use of Apple Pay and Mobile Payments in Perspective

Although the number of Apple Pay users worldwide more than doubled in 2017, this represents just 16 percent of iPhone owners that have activated Apple Pay, leaving opportunity for rivals like Samsung Pay and Alphabet, who is re-branding Android Pay to Google Pay, to catch up.

Apple is the leader when it comes to NFC mobile wallets today but overall usage of these mobile payment methods is still far from mainstream adoption. Although relatively new (Apple Pay launched in October 2014) and continuing to grow rapidly, increasing to 127 million Apple Pay users from 62 million in 2016, use of Apple Pay or any mobile wallet at the physical point-of-sale still pales in comparison to the use of credit cards. Estimates of Apple Pay users come from private equity firm Loup Ventures’ annual analysis of Apple Pay adoption.

According to estimates from Apple stated in an August 2017 earnings call, 90 percent of all global NFC payment transactions are through Apple Pay. While Apple holds the majority of the global NFC mobile payment market share, this is represented by just 127 million users. Additionally, many of these Apple Pay users may have only used it within a mobile app or mobile web browser checkout, not at the physical point-of-sale. Under the simplifying assumptions that all Apple Pay users have used the mobile wallet at the point-of-sale and that Apple Pay and all other NFC mobile wallet users conduct the same number of transactions per user, this would imply a total of only 141.1 million NFC mobile wallet payment users globally. If accounting for Apple Pay users that do not use it in-store, the estimated total number of NFC mobile wallet users would be less.

Apple additionally stated that three-out-every-four Apple Pay transactions occurred outside of the United States on this same August 2017 earnings call. According to Loup Ventures, 38 million Apple Pay users are in the U.S. while the remaining 89 million live in other countries. While the fact that Apple Pay users more than doubled between 2016 and 2017 is significant, the 127 million global Apple Pay users is still less than the number of credit card holders in the United States alone.

In 2015 the Federal Reserve estimated that 70 percent of U.S. adults own at least one credit card, representing 174.6 million U.S. adults, or nearly 5-times the number of Apple Pay users in the United States today.

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